State surveillance under the spotlight | Letter

The latest revelation that the police had a spy in the CND headquarters is further proof of the unnecessary monitoring of legal, peaceful activities, writes former national council member Julian Harber

In 1985, the whistleblower Cathy Massiter reported that in the early 1980s, MI5 had a spy, Harry Newton, in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s headquarters. It now turns out that the police also had their own spy, John Kerry, in the same office (CND calls for answers from inquiry over 1980s police infiltration, 12 September). Did they spy on each other? And was there perhaps a special branch agent keeping a file on both of them?

Rather more seriously, the latest revelation is further confirmation of the state surveillance that many of us at the time assumed was going on, and which was subsequently admitted by MI5 itself (see its official history by Christopher Andrew, published in 2009). The Mitting inquiry into undercover policing is a welcome further exposure of some of the nuts and bolts of such state spying.

The key question, though, is whether it has made any difference. Or does state surveillance of legal, peaceful activities that challenge the status quo continue unabated?
Julian Harber
Former member, CND national council, and former chair, European Nuclear Disarmament

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.

Letters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Extinction Rebellion and a brief history of civil disobedience | Letters
Letters: The poll tax rebellion still takes some beating, writes Dave Nellist MP. And 1,314 people were arrested in Trafalgar Square on 17 September, 1961 as part of the Committee of 100, writes Dennis Gould

Letters

30, Apr, 2019 @4:38 PM

Article image
As victims of spycops, we stand with Lush in campaign for full disclosure | Letters
Letter: Doreen Lawrence and John McDonnell are among 74 victims of secret undercover police operations, lawyers and others condemning misrepresentation of the cosmetics retailer

Letters

04, Jun, 2018 @12:32 PM

Article image
‘Spycop’ ex-wives: we support the Lush campaign | Letters
Letters: In bringing this issue to the attention of the general public, Lush has achieved far more in a weekend than the inquiry has in three years, write two core participants still waiting to be heard

Letters

06, Jun, 2018 @5:11 PM

Article image
As the son of an undercover cop, I support what Lush did | Letters
Letters: To what extent did senior officers condone or direct me being fathered or fatherless, wonders a core participant in the undercover policing public inquiry

Letters

10, Jun, 2018 @4:46 PM

Article image
Supreme Court verdict awaited in crucial surveillance case | Guardian Undercover Blog
John Catt, 89, has fought for three years to compel police’s “domestic extremism” unit to destroy its records on him

Rob Evans

08, Dec, 2014 @6:22 PM

Article image
Anna Soubry abuse reflects the deplorable state of politics today | Letters
Letters: Readers respond to the intimidation and ‘Nazi’ slurs faced by the Conservative MP

Letters

08, Jan, 2019 @6:46 PM

Article image
Public meeting to scrutinise police surveillance of campaigners and journalists
Police have come under scrutiny over their desire to monitor journalists, campaigners with no criminal convictions, and elected politicians

Rob Evans

23, Jan, 2015 @12:11 PM

Article image
Counter-terrorism policy is a threat to democracy | Letters
Letters: Campaign groups including CND and Greenpeace UK call for the rescinding of an anti-extremism briefing document in which they were named, while Joe Sim says branding activism as subversive is nothing new. Plus, letters from Andrew Gold and Lisa Battye

Letters

21, Jan, 2020 @6:39 PM

Article image
Police infiltrated our 60s Rhodesia demo | Letter
Letter: James Dalglish recalls being arrested in 1969 at a small protest in which 10% of the protesters were in fact undercover officers

Letters

05, Nov, 2020 @5:36 PM

Article image
How to spot the undercover cops | Brief letters
Brief letters: Binned art work | Gull timetables | Undercover officers | Lewis Hamilton | Stuck-together pages

Letters

17, Nov, 2020 @5:50 PM